The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Sports

July 14, 2014

A Don McCormack column: Dragons will kick off a night earlier

Believe it or not, Loyal Readers, we are seven weeks from the beginning of the 2014 high school football season in the Buckeye State.

While 10 of the 11 varsity squads in the Star Beacon coverage area will be kicking off their campaigns on the traditional Friday night — it falls on Aug. 29, this season — one area team will run the curtain up a night earlier.

Once again, the Lakeside Dragons will have the bright lights all to themselves as they play host to Youngstown East on Thursday, Aug. 28 at beautiful Lakeside Stadium.

Second-year Dragons coach Frank Hall is excited about the prospect of being the only show in town, so to speak.

“When I was coaching at Chardon, I used to really enjoy going to watch Lakeside play when they would open on a Thursday night,” the former Harbor Mariners great said. “To me, it’s really a great thing — us being the only game in town.”

Lakeside defeated Youngstown East in the season-opening game of 2013, prevailing in a thrilling 13-12 verdict in a traditional Friday night lidlifter.

The Dragons went on to finish 3-7 in Hall’s first season at the helm, while the Panthers struggled through a 1-9 campaign, the only victory being a 46-0 triumph against visiting Lincoln West in Week 2.

Playing its opener on a Thursday night is not unusual for Lakeside. In fact, it’s usual — the Dragons have kicked off a night earlier than the other teams in the area in nine of its 13 seasons, to date.

Unfortunately, it has not translated into success. Lakeside is 1-8 in Thursday night openers, the only victory being a 20-14 overtime conquest of Howland on the road to initiate the 2005 season.

Hall, however, is undaunted.

“It really works well for the second game in that it gives us an extra day to prepare,” he said. “And coming out of camp, it really is no issue for us to get things rolling on a Thursday night.

“So the benefits for us going into Week 2 far outweigh any disadvantages we will face going a day earlier.”

Lakeside will host Brush in Week 2 at Lakeside Stadium. The Arcs, who finished 7-3 in the regular season and qualified for the Division II, Region 3 playoffs, blanked the visiting Dragons in Week 2 last fall, 49-0.

Hall is upbeat as he prepares to begin practice for his second season in charge at Lakeside on Friday, Aug. 1.

“We’re looking forward to getting things started,” he said. “The fact we will have center stage by opening up on a Thursday night only adds a bit more excitement for us.

“There’s a lot for us to look forward to.”

McCormack is the sports editor of the Star Beacon. Reach him at donmac@suite224.net.

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